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Dis-Chem ‘allegiance’ to Israel once again in the limelight

Dischem pharmacy

Cii News | 05 September 2014/10 Dhul Qa’dah 1435

In 2011, Fathima Moosa, a health enthusiast, raised an objection to a Dis-Chem pharmacy’s stocking of Israeli products at a branch in Durban. In an online submission to the Dis-Chem website, she expressed her disappointment that the store imported products from a country whose human rights violations she described as “replicating Hitler’s Nazism.” She further appealed to the company to consider removing Israeli products from its shelves.

Responding to her query, a Dis-Chem customer care officer briefly replied that the correspondence was brought to the attention of one of the company’s directors who ruled out removing Israeli products from the store’s shelves, providing no further explanation.

Unsatisfied, Moosa once again wrote to the store requesting that her sentiments be conveyed to the director in question. Citing a moral imperative, she appealed to him to distance the company from Israeli products just as a host of Jewish groups-both locally and abroad had censured the Israeli regime and called for sanctions against it.

After a lull in communication for almost a month, Moosa received an email response to her grievance from Dis-Chem group CEO Ivan Saltzman in December of that year. The director’s harsh tone and unequivocal defence of his company’s stance had been widely slated back then, with many calling it “arrogant” and proposing a boycott of the company.

In it, Saltzman took serious offence to Moosa’s likening of Israel’s human rights violations to Nazism, calling it a “scurrilous slur.” He retorted by alleging that resistance groupings such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad were the “true modern day Nazis in the Middle East,” for what he called their aspirations to murder Israeli Jews. Israel, he said, went to extraordinary lengths to minimise civilian casualties and has been extremely successful in this regard.”

Responding to Moosa’s call to boycott Israeli-made products, the CEO said that consumers were free to adopt such measures as citizens of a free country. He however took aim at what he saw as the shortcomings of such a strategy. Citing many examples of what he described as Israeli innovations – from computer chips, to stents, diabetes patches and drip irrigation – Saltzman told Moosa to consider carefully what she was boycotting.

“The list that Israel has given the world is very lengthy,” he added.

Although the controversy died down somewhat in the ensuing months, and Moosa chose not to respond to what she deemed the “hate and Islamophobia that spilled forth” in Saltzman’s letter, the wrangle unexpectedly reared its ugly head again last month when an extract from the CEO’s letter to Moosa mysteriously appeared in the letter’s page of Port Elizabeth’s Herald newspaper. The matter gained further traction when the Israeli Ambassador publicly hailed the correspondence on social media. “Join me in thanking the CEO of Dis-Chem Pharmacists who care whose beautiful letter appeared in today’s Herald Port Elizabeth,” Arthur Lenk wrote on Facebook.

With a backdrop of devastating Israeli aggression on Gaza and a spirited campaign to boycott retailer Woolworths for its stocking of Israeli produce, the intransigence of the Saltzman coupled with the apparently warm relationship he shares with the Israeli establishment has firmly placed Dis-Chem back in the spotlight as a potential target for a future BDS campaign.

A formal call to boycott has not been issued by Palestinian solidarity groupings yet, but for many the choice to isolate is fait accompli. So far, community activist Zahid Asmal has penned an eloquent letter to Saltzman and Moosa has also seconded with her long awaited response to the CEO.(Both are reproduced below).

For its part, BDS South Africa has previously made known that the movement selects campaigns after careful analysis and strategic considerations. “Several retailers in South Africa have some sort of trade relationship with Israel,” it acknowledged in an earlier call to boycott Woolworths. “We can try to boycott all of them but this is a daunting task that has a slim chance of having a concrete impact. Thus we focus our campaigns and move from one target to another as we reach our goals.  Selecting Woolworths, for example, does not mean that other South African supermarkets do not stock Israeli products,” it added.

“Part of the reason for campaigning and calling on Woolworths to end their Israeli trade relations is because Woolworths tries to sell itself as an “ethical company”. Surely the ethics that Woolworths claims to support include not trading with companies of a country like Israel that routinely abuses human rights? We are calling on Woolworths to respect the Palestinian boycott of Israel, take the lead and end its trade relations with Israel and set an example for other South African retailers.”

Open Letter to Ivan Saltzman: Zahid Asmal

Dear Ivan Saltsman

CEO Dis-Chem

I greet you with the universal greetings of peace.

I read with interest a letter you recently penned in reply to a customer of Dis-Chem who asked you to stop stocking Israeli goods in your stores.

Ivan, firstly, we must be thankful to many people around the world, including the Palestinians, for the freedom you and I enjoy today. They greatly helped our revolutionaries who were called ‘Terrorist’ to overcome the evils of apartheid.

Every shoulder to the wheel ensured our freedom. With that came many more opportunities from which you greatly benefit. Free to import and export, free to trade as you wish, and free to compete, amongst a host of others.

You were fortunate that the colour of your skin allowed you to enjoy many freedoms before most of us.

How we wished for support from everyone who may have listened to us.

The Palestinians did.

Ivan, many of us is disgusted at what is happening presently on earth. I sometimes sit back and think how’s it possible that someone, somewhere, organise such chaos. How could we be killing with such ease? How can brothers be fighting each other?

We have lost our humanity somewhere.

When I read your reply, It reaffirmed my belief that we seriously lost compassion.

You castigated the complainant from a dizzy height filled with arrogance.

Instead of accepting her complaint as a normal everyday occurrence, you brutally reminded her about an array of Israeli inventions which I found racist. You used Somalia, Sudan, The Arab Spring, and the Dead Sea to make a point.

If it was to remind the complainant that she used an Israeli made intel chip to write to you, I suggest you read who discovered modern cryptology, without which Intel would not have been around! Mathematicians, al Khwarizmi and al Kindi styled numerals which intel must find great pleasure using today! So, I will use it!

I know you as a sharp astute businessman. You must be aware that Israel imports hundreds of Indian scientist every year to develop technology and falsely claim it as Israeli inventions.

These brilliant minds make intel, but go home as labourers while their bosses continue reeling in the profits.
Ivan, if it wasn’t for the invention of Vertical windmills, the fields of occupied Palestine – where settler’s now illegally live and farm – would have been dry. Do you know who invented them?

While you reading this, you may be sipping on a cup of coffee that will keep you awake to catch up on the days sales. I’m certain you know who first found coffee.

You see Ivan, you spoke about how Israel has given the world a patch for diabetes to deliver medication and other drugs. Fantastic!

Did you hear about a surgeon called al Zahrawi?

Many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century. His scalpels, bone saws, forceps, fine scissors for eye surgery and many of the 200 instruments he devised are recognisable to a modern surgeon.

Or how about Nafis?

He described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it.

Muslims doctors also invented anaesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes in a technique still used today.

So Ivan, It’s not about Israeli inventions versus others. It’s about profiteering from goods manufactured on someone else land.

I hate to burden you with the contentious Hitler racism bit you used in your reply, but I’m compelled to remind you that you have unmasked yourself as an arrogant Islamophobe. You played religion and the man, not the ball.

You have made a choice to continue stocking Israeli products, be it from the Dead Sea or from the internationally recognised illegal settlements.

The fact that you used xenophobic and racist language to defend an innocent request to remove Israeli made goods from your shelves exposed you as an arrogant capitalist.

If your conscience allow you to continue benefitting from goods imported from an occupied land, you have to re-examine your much publicised charity stunts you carry out in South Africa.

It has Palestinian blood dripping all over.

Our father Nelson Mandela famously reminded us that, “Our freedom is incomplete without that of the Palestinian people.”

I guess it doesn’t bother you.

If you true in the belief of fairness and justice, you would have taken steps to allay the concerns of your clientele in a much sober manner.

I’m reminded of an account, known as the Judgment of Solomon, when two women came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel over which was the true mother of a baby. When Solomon suggested they should divide the living child in two with a sword, one woman said she would rather give up the child than see it killed. Solomon then declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, and gave the baby to her.

This was the kind of wisdom and justice I expected from you.

I am in the interest of justice, equality, and fairness, calling on all South Africans who prefer peace over violence, to stay away from your stores. Every cent handled through your till points, is a cent going towards an injustice.

I pray that you can find yourself inside the pollution of arrogance that you engulfed in.

Have a pleasant day my friend.

Yours in Ubuntu

Zahid Asmal


Open Letter to Ivan Saltzman: Fathima Moosa

Dear Mr Saltzman

I was sent a copy of the letter you emailed me, that was published
in the Port Elizabeth Herald a week ago.

I suppose the reason the nasty letter you sent me three years ago is doing the
rounds in the media again, is because the Israeli lobbies in South Africa are seeing
the success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Firstly ,Mr Saltzman,
the reason I did not reply in 2012 was because all I asked was for you to stop
keeping Dead Sea products, which are universally recognized as conflict goods, more
so than even rhino horns.

I was so aghast at the hate and Islamophobia that spilled forth in your letter that
I felt your toxic mix of arrogance and ignorance could not be neutralized by an
appeal to our common humanity, nor for the respect of human rights. I have only
decided to respond because I see your vituperative letter citing Israel’s apparent
achievements being circulated in the media as an attempt to falsely prop Israel up
as being invincible. I will not go into length about the various inventions you have
misappropriated to coming from Israel. Too many websites have exposed the lies.
People were shocked that Israel could so brazenly take credit for others
achievements, like drip irrigation, the Intel chip, heart stents etc. Those who know
about Israel were not so surprised. Please see how this site addressed your hasbara

Just so you know: it is very easy for principled people to boycott apartheid Israel.
Just last year one of the largest farms in South Africa, Karsten Farms cut off all
trade with the Israel’s Hadiklam. This June, Bill Gates sold all of his
approximately 180 million dollars worth of G4S shares, when it was identified as a
company complicit in human rights violations in Israel. On 8 August 2014, Super
Valu, the largest chain supermarket in Ireland instructed their management in their
232 stores to remove all Israeli produce off its shelves. Bolivia, Chile,
Venezuela and a few other countries have cut off ties with this brutal regime. Your
attempt to detract from the issues by citing the Arab spring, and conflicts in
Africa, are really pathetic.

History has shown what happens to democratic governments like that of President
Morsi of Egypt who do not sing to Israel’s tune. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was
a legitimate representation of the people! So is Hamas! Bombing Gaza because the
people voted for Hamas is like bombing South Africa because we voted ANC!

Although you have invented Israeli inventors for inventions made elsewhere, I have
to admit that Israel has quite a list of accomplishments: Although apartheid was
invented in South Africa, it was perfected in Israel. Hitler may have invented
ghettos but it was perfected in Israel. Another thing, although humanity is so
fractured the one thing that unites us like nothing else is Israel’s barbarism on
the population of Gaza. Humanitarians are shocked at the bombing of power plants,
water purification facilities, schools, hospitals, crèches etc. Animal lovers bemoan
the senseless drone attacks on Farms and zoos as well as humans! Medical experts,
scientists and academics shake their heads in shock at the illegal use of white
phosphor and DIME against a civilian population. Journalists break down in tears
unable to watch as children playing soccer on a beach are bombed.

Every human with a conscience has the images of the shredded, shrapnelled , orphaned
and homeless children of Gaza as a scar in their hearts. AND everyone who sees this
senseless killing and destruction makes a resolve to somehow help this madness end!
That is what you and your cronies fear. That the Palestinian’s South African moment
is near. You are right to be afraid! All the Davids, with their slingshots all over
the world and inside Israel will topple your Goliath, because Palestine is the
typical example of the skinny, shy, intelligent kid being beaten to a pulp by the
brawny, loud mouthed schoolyard bully. But the Palestinians are brave, oh so brave!
They resist! With poetry and art , stones, homemade projectiles and slingshots they
fight the fourth mightiest army in the world so bravely, that they make me ashamed
that I did not stand up to you.. It is with greater resolve that I strive for
justice everywhere, and particularly Palestine.

And while I remember My terrorist/ hero Madiba’s words of encouragement in my heart,
I remind you that without justice there can be no peace. I have hope that the large
group of dissenting voices of Jews in South Africa and the world ; and Israelis in
Israel, grow louder and translates into more action to help Israel become a just and
fair society. A society where all people are valued regardless of their ethnicity,
where Jews and non Jews can live together, sharing their future in one democratic
state. As Mandela said: nobody is born hating another person because of the colour
of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and If they
can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, For Love comes more naturally to the
human heart than its opposite..

All this can be a reality Mr Salzman, if you just stop teaching your children to

Hoping for justice and peace for Palestinians and Israelis.

Fathima Moosa

Decoding ISIS: A quagmire of our age

ISIS fighter

Bint Ahmad Sulaymaan | 05 September 2014/10 Dhul Qa’dah 1435

It’s the question most Muslims are asking. Pretty much every non-Muslim has brushed off the “Jihad Movement” ISIS as barbaric. Some Muslims, especially those who do not deny Jihad as the necessary armed struggle against persecution and oppression, are torn between accepting or rejecting them.

Most Muslims, many Ulama included, feel ISIS is an extremist, violent Muslim group distorting the image of Islam. Many of these share the theory that they are nothing but a false flag, fabricated movement created by intelligence agencies and the ‘West’. But this is just regarded as a conspiracy theory.

A small number on the other hand argue that they are a legitimate Islamic group fighting for the rights of oppressed Muslims and establishing Islamic ideals – those of which are being blasphemed against by the mainstream media.

An even smaller minority according to a Cii Radio online poll believe they are a home-grown grassroots movement fighting for dignity and seeking human rights to be respected by the Iraqi and Syrian regimes.

ISIS or ISIL stands for The Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (the Levant). After their declaration of a caliphate they are now simply called IS or Dawlah, from the Arabic Dawlatul Islami , translated as The Islamic State.

The revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests which began in Tunisia mid December 2010 spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen and then to Syria by January 2011. The Arab Spring of toppling dictators and rebel movements is in a long Winter with ongoing violence and civil wars, post 2012.

An expression of anti government sentiment from young Syrian students in Daraa and their subsequent arrest and torture, ignited protests against the 50 year old Baathist regime’s rule in Syria. Brutal repression followed which resulted in the creation of many rebel movements. From the Free Syrian Army, a loose coalition of rebels without an authority to the first major “Jihad group”  Jabatul Nusrah.

By early 2013 ISIS was declared as an independent group with its own funding. The group can trace its beginning to 1999 and then 2004 when they became Al Qaedah in Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been Dawlah’s leader since 2010.

“As the civil war evolved and time passed, and the more brutal it became, the rebellion became Islamic and a number of Jihad groups were formed. Hundreds  and possibly thousands of groups,” says Eissa, producer of YouTube’s research series, The Light.

“ISIS is the most famous and has a support base and is known for being harsh against crime in Syria and for providing safety from crime, he explains, “They’re in conflict with all of the regimes in the Middle East which they regard as Taghut (rebels) and that do not apply Shariah (Islamic Law). They are known for applying Shariah to the letter.”

While all of the rebel groups will claim to be a Jihadi group, their agendas differ. Some are fighting for a democracy while others fight for an Islamic State after they topple Bashar al-Assad. Dawlah however wants an Islamic state now.

“They believe the preservation of religion should be immediate and It should be done immediately by having an Islamic State. They believe that military strength and blessings will come by applying Shariah immediately. Their agenda is to control that region and once that region is controlled to expand through the Muslim World – to conquer all Muslim territory.”

They are not nationalistic, having erased one border already. But unsurprisingly Western countries such as the United States, Britain and Russia and their pocketed Saudi brothers also have an undeclared interest in Syria.

Meanwhile Dawlah is being portrayed as a barbaric Jihadi group “causing murder and mayhem” as it gains territory after territory from Syria and Iraq to create a pan-Islamic state and fully establish its self-proclaimed caliphate.

But are the murders of civilians and innocent women and children and other ghastly claims against Dawlah just propaganda of the elite? Are the televised beheadings of two American journalists real or fabricated? World scholars have branded them a fitnah (trial) and labeled them khawaarij (those out of the right path).

“The Dawlah is very clear that they are not interested in just speech. They are interested in action.” They have a system of running things when they conquer an area. So far they have set up offices, learning centres, libraries, offices for the rights of orphans, places of bread production and more. None of this is broadcasted. The locals saluting Dawlah, playing games with them, learning from them, receiving aid from them isn’t shown either.

Most of the Muslim public believe they’re American agents created to tarnish Islam. But could they just be American rebel fighters in another evil US plot to colonize Iraq and Syria with proxy “Muslims” representing the ruling regimes. As was done in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world which are ruled by puppets of the West who pull their strings.

Dawlah has presented the option of Jizyah (tax) to the non-Muslims. Any non-Muslim citizens to whom the aspect of Jizyah is correctly explained would gladly accept to pay this tax if the element of excessive fear was not present. If agreed to be paid, this small tax in return guarantees their freedom and protection.  Non-Muslims still form part of a Muslim State and should be the target of invites to Islam only.

Whether IS has wantonly killed countless Christians and Yazidis is unclear. On loonwatch.com Joe Carter from the Gospel Coalition writes, “There is no doubt that ISIS is persecuting the Christians in Mosul and other areas of Iraq. But almost all have already fled the city and the few that remain are continuing to leave the area. There are, however, journalists from Iraq and Western news agencies still in the city. Why have none of them taken photographs of these atrocities, or even reported on their occurrence?”

Is Dawlah on Haqq (truth), hopefuls ask. A Cii Radio Facebook user says, “If fighting Shias is haq,then isis is haq. if killing innocent people is bathil, then isis is bathil. if,trying to overthrow a legitimate government (ie asad) is bathil, then isis is bathil, if isis is trying to establish the khilafa according to sharia, then we may say isis is haq (SIC).”

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